Skip to content

USL Orlando Team to be Announced in Press Conference Monday

2010 October 25
by Brian Quarstad

On Friday IMS reported that Phil Rawlins, the owner of the Aztex located in Austin, Texas would be moving his team to Orlando, Florida after acquiring new investors/owners. It was also reported the team would play in the new USL Pro league scheduled to begin in the summer of 2011.

Later on Friday the Aztex released a statement that neither confirmed or denied the IMS story. Instead, the statement said: “At this point in time, there is nothing concrete to report on that front, but we will continue to pursue all of our options and will make an announcement as soon as anything is solidified.”

Now, less than three days later, the United Soccer Leagues released a statement at 6:30 am ET this morning that a press conference will be held on Monday afternoon in Orlando concerning the new soccer team that will play in that city in 2011.

The release states that: Steve Donner and Phil Rawlins from Orlando Sports Holdings will be on hand to announce news that will change the soccer and professional sports landscapes of the City of Orlando. Also on hand will be the club’s first head coach.

The team will also unveil their new name. The organization will also detail the ownership group for the organization.

It’s believed that USL will be making an announcement today or in the upcoming days that outlines numerous English teams that are investing in USL Pro teams. Rumored are Stoke City and several English Championship League teams.

35 Responses
  1. October 25, 2010

    I sure hope Phil Rawlins has the professional, or someone asks the question, what the status of Rawlins’ other team, the Austin Aztex is. Although the fans have been begging for information, Rawlins and the front office have been totally silent about what will become of one of the more successful D2 clubs in recent years. You repay the time, money and effort spent by your fans by leaving with out so much as a single finger salute. Classy.

    At this point, all I have for the Orlando fans is a caution. If Phil & Co. can do this once in Austin, he can do it again to you.

    Thanks again to Brian for chasing this. If it weren’t for him, the Aztex faithful would have no idea what was going on.

  2. Miami Ultra permalink
    October 25, 2010

    This whole thing sounds like more USL shenanigans to me. Let’s see, hasty team moves, adding teams out of nowhere every year, pushing teams up a division. It just seems like reshuffling the same shaky house of cards every year.

    And if this means the end of the Aztex it’s been an entirely classless way to handle it on the part of Rawlins. At least have the decency to let fans know what’s going on.

    I can’t wait until the dust finally settles and the lower divisions can actually move forward in North America.

  3. David permalink
    October 25, 2010

    Is there anywhere we can watch this on line?

  4. Bart permalink
    October 25, 2010

    Yo matthew, at this point it seems to be pretty clear. With the Aztex not receiving enough support from the City or fans (and yes that means while the supporters were nice, there were not enough of them to make any financial sense), they are moving to Orlando, and probably with European investors to help finance the team, something that would not have happened if the team remained in Austin.

    So, this, and I quote, “one of the more successful D2 clubs in recent years” needs to move to greener pastures so it can survive financially.

    It takes a lot to compete against the Longhorns and Austin’s favorite street icon, Leslie, who ran for mayor, and almost won……

  5. October 25, 2010


    So the Aztex have to take responsibility for the lack of attendance to a large extent. If you’re in Austin, you’ll notice this year there were no TV commercials, even on the lower cost channels. There were no billboards or print advertisements. There were some interviews with Phil early in the season, but they dried up. We even gave them the opportunity to put commercials on our team podcast for free, and never heard back from them.

    As far as the investors, Stoke City was supposed to be an investor in the Aztex here since day one. My question is, where was that money? What makes anyone think it’ll be different in Orlando?

    At the end of the day though, my issue is less with the fact they’re moving. Don’t get me wrong, I hate it. What I hate is that after all the supporters have done for the team, they’ve said nothing to us about the future. I’ve personally sent several emails to Phil Rawlins asking for some hint as to what’s happening? So far, not a #*@! word. Nice “community focus” there.

  6. Mike in Austin permalink
    October 25, 2010


    In what election do you think Leslie ‘almost won’? He received 10% in 2000 against 84% for Kirk Watson and in 2003 he came in fifth with less then 2%.

    But I’ll move on. I don’t think this move has anything to do with the growing support for the team in Austin. I think this has much more to do with USL deciding to not compete for division 2 sanctioning from the USSF. That means NASL is the only D2 option and Phil Rawlins doesn’t seem to be a fan of that league.

    With USL-Pro planning on playing in geographical divisions, Austin was left with no real option since they are nowhere near all the other USL-Pro teams (which is basically just an East Coast & Caribbean league).

    That doesn’t mean that this is not a betrayal to all the fans in Austin, it just means that the league setup does not allow for a USL-Pro team in Austin or really anywhere west of Florida. This is a huge shame as Austin was developing into a quality soccer town.

  7. Bart permalink
    October 25, 2010

    Mike in Austin

    Now don’t be cuttin’ down Leslie. Not everyone can wear a thong like he can.

  8. Minor permalink
    October 25, 2010

    The Aztex were 6th in the league for average attendance, and that is only in year 2 of existence. I don’t know where we fell in terms of attendance growth when compared to other teams, but I would guess that we were one of the top 3 teams.

    Regardless of how much the organization put into marketing, there was a very strong base of supporters here in Austin that are going to feel very betrayed by the team moving to a swampy dump, that is Orlando. Nothing but the worst wishes for the Rawlin’s family, the Orlando team, and I am now officially hoping that Stoke City FC finish bottom and become irrelevant again.

  9. JXU permalink
    October 25, 2010

    My understanding is that year-over-year, the Aztex had the largest growth in average attendance (%) in the league.

  10. Mike in Austin permalink
    October 25, 2010


    Great job not replying to anything I actually said.

  11. ERic permalink
    October 25, 2010

    I hope people will forgive us. We’re all a little bit peeved here in Austin right now, so we’re going to say a bunch of really rude things and be generally tetchy for a while.

  12. Neal aka Lightning Striker permalink
    October 25, 2010

    bq: keep up the reporting on anything related to our game below the MLS level, you are a unique source for information and have reported with integrity from day one. Peace and futbol, my friend.

  13. October 25, 2010

    Thanks Neal,

    Hope you’re having fun in Sweden.

  14. yankiboy permalink
    October 25, 2010

    “Steve Donner and Phil Rawlins from Orlando Sports Holdings will be on hand to announce news that will change the soccer and professional sports landscapes of the City of Orlando.”

    So, my math isn’t too good but doesn’t this make the SECOND time in less than a year that Steve Donner is going to make an announcement at a presser that will “change the Orlando sports landscape???

    Good luck with that…

    These people are insulting my already very limited intelligence.

  15. Austinite permalink
    October 25, 2010

    Yes, Austin had relatively good attendance for D2, especially for a new team. The killer is travel expense, and D3 is all southeast USA.

    And Mike “Not everyone can wear a thong like (Leslie) can”: You obviously haven’t seen the “Thong Rider” cycling through Allandale daily….

  16. yankiboy permalink
    October 25, 2010

    To all my Austin Brothers and Sisters: Sorry that I never made it down and out for a Baltimore or Puerto Rico match.

    Things have been looking very bad here in Baltimore as well. You guys worked hard and grew your fanbase better than we managed to do.

    Our problems have been well publicized. This news appears to be a big shock to the supporters.

    I’m really sorry to see this happening to you guys.

  17. Garrett permalink
    October 25, 2010

    How does an Orlando team fit into any regional model? Is USL betting that NASL won’t get sanctioned and that they’ll be able to play Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale? Still, that’s only two teams and Orlando will still have to fly to play any other teams other than that are they going to drive:

    7 hours to Charleston?
    7.5 hours to Atlanta (if they ever get a team)
    9 hours to Charlotte?
    10 hours to Cary? (again, assuming NASL doesn’t work)

    And if they participate in the Caribbean division, they have to fly there. I just don’t see how Orlando fits much better into a regional model (at this time) than Austin does. Seems like Rawlins and Donner are hedging their bets against the NASL (which all evidence is pointing to the USL being committed to undermining)

  18. tom permalink
    October 25, 2010

    “This whole thing sounds like more USL shenanigans to me”

    To me it sounds like USL is out manoeuvring the NASl, the regional vision is long overdue. I feal sorry for Austin but at this point I think I will support the USL, they seem to be the best hope for lower division soccer in the U.S.

  19. Dan permalink
    October 25, 2010

    Hey guys,
    Sorry about your team. I think this is a Double Blow for the NASL.
    1. Austin would have been a strong addition to the NASL.
    2. San Antonio- Austin would ahve been an amazing and very entertaining rivalry in the NASL.

    The NASL was builind toward Austin and Phil Rawlins manags to break the heart of not just one, but 2 Cities (Austin and San Antonio) and NASL.

    If Austin loses their team I wish the worse on Phil Rawlins.

  20. tom permalink
    October 25, 2010

    “7 hours to Charleston?
    7.5 hours to Atlanta (if they ever get a team)
    9 hours to Charlotte?
    10 hours to Cary? (again, assuming NASL doesn’t work”

    I thinkt that they would be in the same division as
    Real Maryland
    Either way it sure beats traveling to Montreal and Rochester

  21. October 25, 2010

    I’m pretty sure flights are a lot cheaper to and from Orlando than a lot of cities because of the amount of flights and desirable destination.

  22. Garrett permalink
    October 25, 2010


    It’s be cool if we could get Kartik, who has extensive knowledge about Soccer and the Airline industry for some reason, to provide analysis on how financially feasible these new setups would be

  23. October 25, 2010

    I don’t think you can expect a PR director of the NASL to comment on anything to do with the USL. The opposite would be true as well.

  24. Garrett permalink
    October 25, 2010

    Well I know he can’t, just saying it would be interesting.

  25. JXU permalink
    October 25, 2010

    Press conference will be live at

  26. JXU permalink
    October 25, 2010

    Rhinos are going to USL PRO.

    I wonder if all of this is happening because USSF has decided to shut down D2 next season?

  27. October 25, 2010

    JXU, evidently you haven’t been following along at home. 😉 This was basically decided a long time ago. It has nothing to do with a USSF decision. I heard Clark signed the papers a number of weeks ago.

  28. JXU permalink
    October 25, 2010

    Sorry, Brian. It hit the USL front page 10 minutes ago.

    Simultaneously, the official confirmation of Austin’s worst fears were posted to the Aztex site.

    Players, coach, and everything are gone to Orlando.

    A very sad and bitter day for Austin.

  29. Strikers Return permalink
    October 25, 2010

    Very sad for all of D2 soccer fans. Austin loses its team, which moves and self-relegates to an organization that has never proven itself capable of operating on a D2 level. The Rhinos have done the same thing by switching their allegiance yet again.

    You could see right from the start that the USL’s only option was to try and make something out of D3 and just hope the NASL would fall apart, leaving them as the only game in town below MLS, even if they never regain D2 status, which I cannot at all see based on the new USSF guidelines. With Austin and Rochester in the fold, the NASL could have had a real chance at building a foundation for D2 soccer along with the Strikers, Rowdies, Railhawks, and Islanders.

    Well, looks like the USL is “out-manuevering” the NASL. I just wonder what the consequences of that will be over the next few years. I also am VERY interested to hear more about the “national broadcast package…with Fox Soccer Channel” that USL is talking about in the Rhinos press release. What in the world would FSC want with D3 American soccer?!?

  30. JXU permalink
    October 25, 2010

    So I wonder what’s to become of all those NASL teams, now?

    Due to the requirements on % teams based in the U.S., and the financial backing required, it seemed to me that NASL’s bid was dependent on getting the Aztex and Rhinos onboard. Their 6 team bid, with only 3 U.S. teams in it, looks like that really is going to be the best they can put forward.

  31. treefire permalink
    October 25, 2010

    Certainly a bitter and sad day for Austin fans. My condolences. I hope you can all stick together and keep something going there with a PDL team, at least. It would be a shame to lose the friends and fanbase that you’ve built. Hopefully, it won’t take that long for some other regional markets to catch up with you so you can have a league for a higher level team to play in again.

    If that’s even what you’d want any more. Stuff like this makes me feel more and more that time spent rooting for a team owned by someone from somewhere else, with a bunch of players from somewhere else, who’s connection to local communities are some pr appearances at fundraisers, is a bit sub-optimal.

  32. Strikers Return permalink
    October 25, 2010

    Unless NASL has something up its sleeve we don’t know about, like USL did with Austin to Orlando, I think things fall squarely on the USSF now. How badly do they want D2 in place in this country? How badly do they think it will reflect on them that there doesn’t seem to be ANYBODY in this country interested in promoting the general welfare of a second division?

    Can’t really blame a lot of fans beyond the true hard core groups. What has D2 produced over the last 15 years? Failure, failure, and oh yeah, and more failure. D2 is like a TV show a network has announced as cancelled. There is a small group of hardcore fans that would do anything within their means to support it, but in the end, it’s nowhere near enough to make a difference to the people that have the power.

    I stil can’t fathom the idea of looking at pro soccer below the D1 level and expecting profitability. Like 90% of D1 can’t even break even, but Clark and Rawlins somehow thought when they signed up for D2 that it would be different??? I jsut don’t get it. If you’re not willing to be a LONG TERM owner, it makes no sense. I can’t really envision anyone other then someone who is REALLY rich and REALLY loves soccer to be at all interested in owning a D2 team.

  33. Trevor permalink
    October 26, 2010

    @Strikers Return

    I agree with the last paragraph of your post. But somehow Marcos seems to find these guys everywhere. One has to wonder what he’s selling them and how they haven’t sued him for false advertisement.

    Well, some owners did try to call him on his bs, and now they and all of their teams will probably fade into obscurity like the NASL of old.

  34. fotbalist permalink
    October 26, 2010

    It seems to me that ‘tom’ is right. USL is out-manouvering the NASL. I still think the NASL should go ahead because if they put great soccer on the pitch and get enough media attention it won’t be long before a few other teams will want to join an official D2 (if one ever gets sanctioned).

    I’m terribly sad for Austin and the Austin fans. They deserve more than what Rawlins has provided. I sure hope that a new team starts in Austin, even if it’s only NPSL for now.

Comments are closed.